I sat on hold in silence for 20 minutes


Here is a tale from a few months back. A little insight – I don’t work at/for a traditional call center. I have been working from home for years for BigRhed, which has social media outreach. 99% of the time, I am working through a chat-like interface with customers who message us through social media. We sell products and services which occasionally require an appointment from a repair professional. We send them out when all troubleshooting efforts fail, and if it turns out the issue is not within our control, we charge a nice chunk of change for the visit. My department has an internal rule that if a customer messages us and asks for a call, we can try to deflect the call one time, but if a request is made a second time, we have to make a call. A lot of customers have figured this out and message us as a way to avoid waiting on hold with our existing support line. I made the call to a guy who sounded like he was probably in his 60s. Older, but feisty. It is important to note that as a work from home employee, calls are made via a softphone, not an actual phone, and as such, features of the softphone are very, very limited for security purposes. Outbound calls also are not recorded, so I can be a little snippy with people who get difficult, and it isn’t on the record.

**Me**: Hi, this is BollWeevilKnievel, with BigRhed, how are you?

**Feisty**: I’m doing well, thank you.

**Me**: [Standard account security protocols] Thanks! What can I look into with you?

**Feisty**: Actually, I am *not* doing well! My home phone has been in and out all day this week! I need you to send someone out!

**Me**: I’m sorry to hear of the trouble, I know that can be annoying. Is it okay if we try some troubleshooting to see if we can clear some things up?

**Feisty**: NO! I will NOT troubleshoot!

**Me**: Okay, well, I can have someone out if you’d rather just get to it. Let me see what we have available…

**Feisty**: Someone MUST be out TODAY!

Here I must note it was 1:00pm EST. That’s a really bad time to request a same-day service call, as people have usually booked everything by then.

**Me**: I can have a tech out tomorrow at 1:00pm…

**Feisty**: NO! Didn’t you hear me? Let me repeat: Today, not tomorrow! I am having a family emergency and need my phone to work TODAY!

**Me**: I heard you fine, but I cannot give you an appointment for today as there is not one available. What I can do is schedule the available one and then make a request to see if we can get someone out sooner.

At this point we just go back in forth on this point. And he makes some stupid comments like

**Feisty**: I don’t appreciate being lied to! I KNOW you can give me the appointment I want TODAY. All you have to do is schedule it! It isn’t that hard! Is your job too hard for you to do?

As it turns out, no, I can’t just willy nilly schedule appointments. So he then demands that I contact the supervisor of the service team near him and make it work out. Mind you, I am several states away and we just don’t get that contact information. There is no procedure for anyone in my department to contact the supervisors of other departments. Just isn’t how it works. Which I explain to him calmly.

**Feisty**: I will sit here ON HOLD with you until you get me an appointment TODAY!

**Me**: That’s fine, sir, but it might be a while. I can contact my supervisor by chat but I can’t guarantee when he’ll reply.

**Feisty**: I have all day!

**Me:** Okay, I’ve messaged him.

At this point, I sit there in silence for nearly 20 minutes while I type back and forth with my supervisor who is reviewing the messages he sent us before the call while also being in a meeting himself. Feisty hears me typing in the background.

**Feisty**: You know, I can hear you typing to other people! I know you’re probably making fun of me! It’s a joke to you, isn’t it?

**Me**: I do have to type to communicate with my supervisor, and the microphone is quite sensitive.

**Feisty**: What are you telling him?

**Me:** I’m just explaining to him what’s going on in case he wants to know why I’ve been on the phone for nearly half an hour with you.

**Feisty**: Good! I’m glad I’m holding you up so you can’t help other people!

**Me**: I’m glad, sir, I’m getting paid the same either way so this is actually less work for me to just sit here on the phone.

**Feisty**: Can your supervisor contact their supervisor or not?

**Me**: In theory, I suppose he can. I don’t know every thing my supervisor may or may not be able to do.

**Feisty**: Well then YOU contact YOUR supervisor and have him contact their supervisor and give me an appointment TODAY.

**Me**: Sure thing, I can do that. I will need to end this call so I can send this request over to him.

**Feisty**: NO! I want your supervisor on a conference call with you and I, and we will discuss this together!

**Me**: That’s not possible, we don’t do conference calls that way. I can either stay on the phone with you, and work on scheduling the available appointment, or we can end the call and I can then let my supervisor know of your request for a sooner appointment.

**Feisty**: No! This is 2021!

Yes, he *CuRrEnRt yEaR’d* me! At this point his voice was dripping with condescending attitude.

**Feisty**: So, let me get this straight. It is 2021. In the United States of America. You work for BigRhed, a tech giant. And you don’t know how to set up a conference call? Is that right?

**Me**: No, that is not right. Regardless of today’s date, the option for me to have my supervisor get in on this call is not an option that is open to me. I can call you and we can talk, my supervisor however cannot just join the conversation.

**Feisty**: Well that’s odd! I have a cell phone right here in my hand! It’s nothing special, but I can call anyone in Romania, England, Guatemala, and so on – all over the world – and we can even conference call with dozens of people! You’re telling me your phone can’t do that? I find that hard to believe!

**Me**: I’m glad you have this feature on your phone, but no, I am not using a phone, but a program on a computer that does not include conferencing.

**Feisty**: So you’re telling me that’s the only phone you have? You don’t have a cell phone?

**Me**: Yes, I do have a cell phone which BigRhed does not pay the bill for, and which BigRhed has not authorized me to use for work related purposes.

**Feisty**: Well use that to call your supervisor and put me in on a conference call!

**Me**: No. I’m not doing that. My personal cell phone is not provided by BigRhed and I am not using it for work related purposes.

**Feisty**: Well I’m sure your supervisor has a personal phone, does he not?

**Me**: I don’t know what my supervisor does or does not own, I do not live with him.

**Feisty**: Well I demand to speak with him! Have him call me directly!

At this point, the Feisty had officially requested a supervisor, and official department guidelines say I have to now move the situation up the chain, which requires me ending the call and informing my supervisor that he has been requested. I gleefully gave the “I’ll have a supervisor reach out to you as soon as possible, thank you for taking my call!” script as he was shouting and protesting on the other end, realizing his mistake and that I would be ending the call. It reminded me of that scene in *A Christmas Story* where the Mall Santa kicks the kids down the slide going *Hoooo Hoooo Hooooooooooo*. I sent the request to my supervisor who messaged him back saying he had been given the available option and to take it or leave it.


What do you think?

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I wish I could have done more for her

I need service now! I can’t call without service!